August 9, 2012

Home Sweet Humid Home

(Andrew's Note: Ok!  Ras Tanura!  If you missed the first part, see here.)

Hey Look!  Two suns!  Like Tatooine!
Arriving in Ras Tanura is akin to running 26.2 miles and then taking your first drink of water... it's an oasis in the desert.  I think this compound alone has kept the sprinkler industry alive and well since the 1950s.  In fact, if you type in "Ras Tanura" into Google Earth, you can see an example of this quite vividly.

Sand, sand, sand, sand.... GREEN!!!!!, sand, sand, sand.

Evidently green grass keeps the expats happy, so sprinklers are seen going all day long.  We learned the hard way that our front yard sprinklers go off two times a day, not one.  This might seem a bit excessive but considering that the entire community doesn't have to pay any water bills, expats run their sprinklers like it's the national pastime.

Air conditioning your house runs by the same unspoken rule.  Whoever's house is the coldest wins the status reward.  The only problem is that none of us pay for AC so all our ACs are going full time.  I honestly haven't heard ours turn off since we arrived 4 days ago.  I wear more sweaters and jackets in this house than I did in our Houston, TX house because my wonderful Arctic loving husband keeps the thermostat at 21 Celsius.  (woot!) Don't even bother looking up the Fahrenheit conversion.  It's flipping COLD. (Flipping cold, Fahrenheit)  No kidding.  If you Skype with me most likely I'll be wearing a jacket.  And socks.  And house shoes... because I can darn it.

This is our street!  See that blue speck far down on the right side middle of the photo? (No.)
 Our house is next to the blue spec. 

Anywhew... back to the house.  It's awesome.  Quite a bit bigger than our last place.  We will be keeping IKEA in business.  Here is the layout:

Kitchen (all new appliances!)
Garage (duh) (What, duh?  How would anyone know?)
Kitchenette & Living room
Half Bathroom
Formal dining room/study/ what the h*&% do we do with this room
Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs... not kidding.  It looks just like it.
Patio & backyard where you can see the beach over the wall!  (Actually you have to stand on a kitchen chair in the corner of the dining room to barely see it.) 

3 Bedrooms with 2 closets in each
2 Full bathrooms
Lots of storage

Hmm... Methinks we need a yard boy.  (They let us borrow the car you see!!)

We like it!  A lot!  And our rent is so crazy cheap its almost a joke, so that kind of rocks.  And we can paint or install ANYTHING we want, so the possibilities are endless.  We're not supposed to think of it as a rental house, they want you to make it feel like home, which means that if I have my way... our house will look like Hogwarts Castle ASAP.  (Master Bedroom - Red and Gold.  Spare Bedroom #1 - Yellow and Black.  Spare Bedroom #2 - Blue and Black.  Chile's Room - Green and Silver.   Ssssssssss........)

As many of you know, all of our furniture and fridge/washer & dryer will be arriving in mid October.  Until then, we get what's called the Aramco Furniture.  And let me tell you, this stuff is something else.  If you were ever to look for furniture that was a combination of the adjectives 'durable' and 'ugly-as-sin' with a pinch of 'hey lets decorate it with fabric from the 1970s', this stuff would win the prize.  You could probably puke all over the couch and not even have to clean it up.  Now that I think about it, I might rent back the furniture when our eventual kids are between the ages of 2-5.

I've attached a BUNCH of pictures of the house, so please, don't judge us based on the furniture.  I promise, our taste in decorating is much better than Aramcos'.  Or at least Andrew's is.  (Agreed.) I couldn't decorate a house if my life depended on it, I get too overwhelmed by the details and end up not ever buying anything.  IKEAs literally give me the heebie-jeebies.

Kitchen is bright and sunny, as are the new appliances.  (FYI, Saudi basil is the same.)

They give you space for your fridge from home plus theirs.  Essentially, they are encouraging you to hoard food.  

This is supposed to be a formal dining room, but it's where I hide from the daily onslaught of yard boys.
More on that later.

This is the garage storage room.  It is refrigerated. Yes.  I too think this is weird.  (Not refrigerated, just air conditioned.  Wait, same thing.)    

Garage... just big enough for a car and a golf cart. 

Half bath down stairs.  

Living room and kitchenette looking out to the backyard.  Dang, this is starting to sound like I'm selling my house...

Yard!  Over that small tree is the beach!

2 guest bedrooms, I only put a pic up of one b/c I'm lazy. 

Both upstairs bathrooms look like this.

Our bedroom... gotta love the decor.   Actually, if I decorated, this is pretty much what it would look like.  (Yup.)

Our place is a block from the beach.  I don't know how we scored this.  I'm not even working yet... only one of us is adding to the bottom line of the company.  (But didn't only one of us really contribute to any bottom line in Houston?  BURRRNN!!!  :-)  Maybe this is their way of apologizing for the sheer number of yard boys that have rung our doorbell over the past 48 hours.

Me:  "Do you speak English?"
Yard Boy: *Shakes head*
Me:  "Um... we don't need anyone just yet."
Yard Boy:  *Looks at the 12 inches of grass we have in our yard; a veritable cow Mecca* (Extra points for cultural reference.) 
Me:  "I like the grass that tall" (I don't know why I feel the need to justify this... but I do.)
Yard Boy:    *cocks head*
Me:  "Shoo"

BTW... this little exchange has happened 9 times in the past 48 hours.  Each with a different person.  Meanwhile, the grass just keeps growing.  Might have something to do with the amount of times a day the sprinkler goes off... just a thought.  

I feel like I was going somewhere with this.... oh!  The Beach!  It's great.  Beautiful in fact.  I can't get over how close we are to it.  And if the water wasn't 35 Celsius, (Seriously?  I can't even convert this, much less people who don't have to use it every day) we would actually get in it.

(You're welcome.)
Right now it feels like that part in Star Wars when Han Solo and Leia get off the ship and their inside that monsters mouth but they think its a cave but the ship's actually on the tongue of the monster.  See that's us, except the monster is Saudi Arabia and Ras Tanura is just situated in the mouth/tongue of it.

Wow.  I just re-read that and am pretty proud of that reference but simultaneously realize I've just caused about half of you to roll your eyes and swear you'll never read this blog again.  My bad.  (I think they know what they've gotten into.  Two Star Wars and a Harry Potter reference in one post might be a little excessive, though.)

Come back next time for an in depth discussion of why wearing an Abaya is akin to listening to country music.
The Persian Gulf!  

Ras Tanura at dusk.  Pretty pretty.

Hard to see but the running track along the beach is quite nice... when its not 115 F. 

(If you'd like to ask us any questions, leave them in the comments section and we'll answer them in the next post!!)


  1. I LOVE following your posts!! It makes me want to move there!!

  2. Looks like you have plenty of room for visitors. ;) So far, so good...what a thrill!

  3. Great pictures! It's like House Hunters International but better with Star Wars references. ;) Looking forward to the abaya post!

  4. I loved seeing all the pictures. The house looks nice...even better than on Skype! Sorry about the humidity but at least you have a beautiful beach with it! :) Love you!

  5. Running on the beach, how cool - or not. Wait, is that "in" the compound? What is Allison going to have to wear to run?

    But where do you get the food? Did they have food in there for you?